Toolmaking skill allows woodturner Mark Damron to design projects that otherwise might be impossible to create. Mr. Damron is full of surprises. Meet him on the street and you might never guess what really drives him. A big man who speaks plainly, Mr. Damron is a toolmaker and machinist by trade, but working on the lathe is his passion. His toolmaking skills are broad & deep, and that makes Mark somewhat unusual because he relies on these skills for most turning projects he attempts. This allows him to solve problems by building custom tools that meet his needs. Yet there is more to Mark than technical prowess. Mark is also possessed with a driving creative insight, which he is often too modest to acknowledge.

If you spend any time at all with Mark, you quickly conclude that he has his own unique vision. His desire to break from tradition runs irrepressibly deep within him. Mark’s work is a reflection of all of this — and from my perspective, this sure makes him fun to watch. His large-scale, stack ring laminated vessels are but one example. In turning these pieces, Mark depends on several custom tools designed to hold the tight tolerances that are needed to extrude tall, grain-matched vessels from massive turning blanks of highly figured wood. Thin walls, large pieces, and fragile rings combine for some scary turning. But Mark is sure-footed. And in the end, the results are spectacular. (7 Minute Video)

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Segmented woodturners who use the stack ring lamination technique, must precisely calculate the cutting angles used in the process. The rings, which will eventually be stacked and glued one atop the other, are cut as concentric circles from a flat piece of turning stock. In theory, any thickness and size of stock can be used. The method of cutting can vary, but the calculations involved are always the same.

You don’t need to be a mathematician to determine the correct angle — just some graph paper, a pen, and a ruler. A protractor comes in handy too. In this video segment, woodturner Mark Damron shows how to quickly and easily determine the correct angle for any project. You’ll learn how to balance ring thickness and board thickness with cutting angle options so that you can achieve your desired design. Don’t let the numbers scare you. I can assure you — Mark makes it easy. (6.5 Minute Video)

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Some segmented turners use a technique called stack ring lamination to “extrude” larger wood turning blanks from pieces of flat wood stock. Cutting the precisely angled rings that make up this glued-up stack is part of the process. There are many ways to cut rings, but up-and-coming artisan woodturner, Mark Damron, has created his own custom tool designed to accurately and repeatably cut large rings at the correct angle and wall thickness with control and ease. This tool is essential to Mark’s large-scale work.

Mark is a toolmaker by training, so creating custom tools comes naturally to him. His custom ring cutting tool is accurate, easy to handle, and safe when used correctly. In this video, Mark explains the basic design of this tool and how he does the set-up. He then shows how each ring is cut. Watching Mark in action is a great lesson in creative tool design and use. Be inspired to create your own custom tools for your work. (3 Minute Woodworking Video)

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